Phoenix, AZ, January 16, 2014 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is deeply disappointed by the State Senate Committee on Government and Education’s passage today of a so-called religious freedom bill – SB 1062. In testimony before the Committee, ADL vigorously opposed the bill warning that it would jeopardize the welfare of Arizonians by disturbing the State’s delicate balance of religious freedom and the rights of others.
“Arizona already provides it citizens, houses of worship and other religious institutions with some of the nation’s strongest religious freedom protections from government intrusions and burdens,” said Tracey Stewart, ADL Arizona Assistant Regional Director. “A for-profit corporation or business could trample on the rights of others by claiming that a legal requirement is religiously offensive. Because of these serious issues, the Senate Rules Committee should not allow a full Senate vote on this unwise legislation,” said Stewart.
Under Arizona’s existing Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the government must demonstrate strict scrutiny – the strongest constitutional standard – when state or local government burdens the religious exercise of an individual or religious institution. SB 1062 would provide these same rights to for-profit corporations, partnerships or any other legal entity. And it would apply to the enforcement of any law or ordinance whether by a private citizen or the government.
Based on SB 1062 a CEO’s religious belief in paying men more than woman could be the basis of a for- profit corporation denying equal pay to women, or an individual could refuse to pay legally required interest on a lien, fine or loan based on a religious belief.
A copy of ADL’s letter to the Senate Committee on Government and Education further detailing its opposition to SB 1062 is available upon request.
The Anti-Defamation League is the leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry. As part of its work, ADL advocates for equal opportunity by seeking ways to close racial and ethnic disparities in education outcomes.